David Stoecker / Better Life in Recovery
If not for my sister finding me unconscious in a pool of blood, I would not be here.
She saved my life. Not that I would call what I had then a life. In my addiction, my hopelessness and depression had reached abysmal depths. I got so low I attempted suicide.
When you spend 6 days awake on methamphetamine, sleeping only 1 day a week, you are not really living. If you would have asked, I would have told you otherwise. I would have told you I was fine. And I was: Fearful, Insecure, Numb and Emotional. FINE.
I was afraid that I would never stop using drugs. I was scared that my life was never going to get any better. I was terrified that when I died I would turn to dust so nothing that I ever did mattered. I was horrified that I had let down my family, and would never do anything they could be proud of me for. That fear turned outward, and was expressed as rage. I was violent and angry in hopes that no one would get close to me. I did not want to give people the chance to hurt me again, so I stopped caring about anyone and anything but myself and my next fix.
I knew that other people had not been beaten like I had, but I could share that. I knew that other guys had not been molested like I had, and was so afraid of what people would think if they knew. I was depressed all of the time and felt weak and soft.
That is what a lot of my drug use was. I never wanted to be hurt again emotionally or psychologically, and staying high was a great way to ensure that no one could get close. If my focus was on getting high, I developed no close relationships. Staying spun allowed me to feel nothing. No true relationships and not feeling are the perfect storm for creating that numb condition I desired.
I would cry when I was by myself. I could feel alone in my house with 10 other people, or at a club with hundreds. I was depressed to levels that no one should have to live with. Other times, I was so angry that the littlest thing would cause me to erupt. I would put holes in walls and hit people for no reason other than I did not like who I was and what I had become. I was so unhappy in my own skin, and nothing I did changed that.
As for the suicide, that would not be the last time I tried to kill myself. No, I was sure that there was no hope of sobriety in my future and my addiction was wearing me down. It had not even taken me 2 years of using drugs IV to realize that life sucked. Beyond that I only knew one thing, my life was only going to get worse.
I promised my sister that I would never try to kill myself again.
I would attempt suicide on several more occasions, probably a half dozen times. It would generally happen on my birthday or after really long meth runs (a meth run is an extended time spent awake on methamphetamine without sleep). In order to keep my promise to my sister, I would play Russian roulette. I could make the argument that it was not me killing myself if I was successful, but instead that it was chance.
I would empty my revolver of all but one bullet, spin the cylinder and put the gun to my head. I would be lying if I told you that the hammer clicking was not the loudest sound I had ever heard. There was some anger at the gun not going off, and relief at the same time. I was so conflicted about what I wanted to do and whether or not I wanted to live.
People who struggle with addictions can justify anything.
Even making decisions they really don’t want to. It wasn’t that I wanted to die. I just knew that I could not go on living my life the way I was. I was so tired, hopeless and depressed. I always covered it up so well that no one knew. I put on the mask of the clown, laughing and joyous on the outside.
I was an amazing actor. I had built walls that I hid behind and no one was ever allowed to see the real me. I had been faking those walls since my early youth. It had started when I was being abused at 3 and 4. Through the years I had gotten really good at showing people what I wanted them to see. They saw happy, popular, outgoing me. It could not have been further from the truth.
I was depressed all of the time. I looked around and saw how happy the people I partied with were and I knew that there must be something wrong with me. How come I was not happy? Why did I not feel motivated to do anything unless I got high? Why did I feel so alone while they all seemed to be living it up?
The lie many people hear is that people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol use because it makes them feel great.
It helps them escape and be forget their responsibilities. That could not have been further from the truth. I was no longer using to feel good. I was using to feel less bad. My life sucked each and every day. I did not have the motivation to leave the house and if I went to sleep I didn’t have the ability to get out of bed and function unless I got high.
Today I know most of the people I used with were depressed as well. Most of the clients I have worked with over the years are just as miserable as I was. They too are hiding behind walls they have erected, never showing people the real them. That makes you even more miserable. You cannot be you out of fear of what others may think or do if they knew the truth.
Excerpted—with light editing—from an August 7, 2015 post of David's.
About the Author
David is a person in long-term recovery. For him that means he has not used alcohol or other drugs since January 31, 2009 and because of that he has an amazing life today.
He is a counselor for Preferred Family Healthcare who works with the Greene County Treatment Courts. He turned a GED he got in prison into an Associate’s Degree, Bachelor’s Degrees in Psychology and Sociology and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. He is on the Missouri State Advisory Council for Alcohol and Drug Abuse, the planning committee for the Department of Mental Health’s Consumer Conference, a Missouri Recovery Network Regional Peer Outreach Specialist, a member of the Citizen’s Advisory Board, a member of the Recovery Coalition of the Ozarks, a certified grief recovery specialist, a Missouri Recovery Support Specialist Peer, the assimilation coach for the Celebrate Recovery group he attends as well as a loving husband and father to two amazing children.
David is the director of the non-profit organization Better Life in Recovery.